Illinois Marathon …. 4th Marathon in 21 Days

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The 4 for 40 Challenge is done.  Complete.  Mission accomplished. It’s always a win when I am able to complete a goal.  However, this was not an easy feat for me.  I called it a challenge for a reason.  4 marathon in 21 days is hard.  Some people make it look easy and those people are crazy but I had no illusions that it would be easy for me.  It was a challenge.  One in which my only goal was to finish the 4 marathons, be happy, be healthy and be able to move onto the next big thing.   It was impossible to know when I started the 4 for 40 Challenge but my life is about to change dramatically.  Had I not had the courage to chase down this goal, I may have never been able to attempt it.  In fact, I’m not even sure when my next marathon will be due to the upcoming changes that are in store for myself and my family.  So I’m proud that I had the courage to try something so challenging.  I’m proud that I followed my heart.  I’m proud that I did it even though it was difficult.  Challenge complete! 

As for the Illinois Marathon itself, it was a very well organized event.  The marathon weekend offered something for the entire family.  There was a 5K with 6,137 finishers, a 10K with 2,532 finishers, the half marathon with 5,663 finishers and the full with a mere 1,682 finishers.  The weekend also offered an I-Challenge for runner who wanted to participate in the 5K on FRI evening and then one of the other events on SAT morning.  Fun!!  Plus a lot of my area runners were also participating so that ups the fun factor for me.  Here are are a few members of my running club pre-race, and pic with my speedy friend & fellow Touch Chik Carmen who I got to see before the start.

IL Marathon_fnrc start  IL Marathon_carmen

Then we all headed to the potty lines that were super long.  I must say after 5 weekends in a row of racing, if I NEVER see another porta-potty as long as I live, I’d be okay with that.  The entire area reeked of shit poo.  And the lines were ridiculously long.  And many people were still standing in line with the gun went off.  Why are there never enough potties? 

The gun goes off.  The first couple miles were fun with drunk college co-eds hanging off their porches and balconies cheering us on.  Then we moved thru a neighborhood with lots of support.  It was a fun charged atmosphere but I could tell that my legs just didn’t have much in them, so I slowed the pace and tried to find a rhythm.  I just need to finish the race to complete my challenge and become a 4 star Marathon Maniac.    I could do it!  Pace didn’t matter but I soon realized that it was going to be a more difficult challenge than even I had anticipated.  My “wheels” feel off early.  Things just kinda fell apart both emotionally and physically.  The weather wasn’t my friend either and to be honest, I was hot and miserable and tired.  Like really tired.  A combo of stress, lack of sleep and “maybe” 4 marathon in 21 days had taken it’s toll.  I was toasted.  Moving on mile by mile and hating every minute of it.    The bright spot was definitely seeing the kids at mile 13.  But that made me even more emotional and I just wanted to pack it up and go home but alas my keys were in someone else’s check bag.

IL Marathon_Michael

So I kept moving.  Fortunately I had a couple friends who helped me out a ton.  Amanda W from the FNRC was out to run bits of the course with a few of us who needed help and she kept me moving forward mostly by text messages.   My friend Lisa told me to suck it up and just walk if I that’s all I could manage but reminded me that I needed to keep moving.  Yep, I needed that.   I also met many people on course who helped me thru mile by mile.  SaraJeanne ran a few miles with me early on between 9 & 13.  Then a guardian angel in a Marathon Maniac shirt, Laurie, kept me moving until Amanda W was able to come back to carry help me to the finish.  It wasn’t pretty, so thank you ladies for all of your help!!   Photo below of Amanda W, Jill and myself.  Jill ran her VERY first marathon at IL.  Great job, Jill!!

IL Marathon_Amanda Jill Me

The course was mostly flat with a few inclines but no real hills.  We ran through town, a forest preserve, back thru town (more drunken co-eds!!) and a lot of neighborhoods.  Then some more neighborhoods with winding streets that drove me crazy.  Lots of community support.  Always runners around me so I never felt alone.  Aid stations were spaced about 2-2.5 miles apart, which was pushing it for such a warm day (temps were low 80s degrees by noon).   Medical was every other aid station or so, which may have also been pushing it for the temps because I saw a lot of a runners down who needed help and most were be helped by other runners.  However, where the aid stations were missing, local residents were there to pick up the slack setting up sprinklers, handing out jelly beans, water, and beer.  Lots of beer.  I bet there were at least 4-5 beer stations on the course.  To be honest, if I had been feeling better, I would have been tempted by the beer but I was on an emotional roller coaster and alcohol may not have been the way to go for me.  Smile

Overall, this was a good race.  I didn’t love it and wouldn’t feel the need to go back but it was solid and I did love those drunken co-eds!  LOL!  I also really enjoyed my finish in the stadium and appreciated the  F’N Runners waiting for me even though, I took so long to finish this one.  Thanks, all!

IL Marathon_fnrc finish

Swag:

IL Marathon_swag

Good times!  Now it’s time for this lady to rest.  I’ll catch you later!

** Amanda – TooTallFritz – 4 Star Marathon Maniac **

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Kentucky Derby Marathon Recap … 3rd Marathon in 14 days

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Saturday was the ever popular Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and “mini-marathon” (AKA – Half Marathon).    I chose this race for the 3rd in my “4 For 40” series because it was a mere 5 hour drive from Chicago and I was somewhat familiar with the area.  I had also heard positive things about this race from other “serial racers”.  Plus, I was hoping spring had sprung and I’d get some much needed sunshine!  I was not disappointed in any aspect.  It was warm, upper 70s, and the area was beautiful.  Louisville was clean, charming and small enough to leave my car parked and walk everywhere safely with my kids in tow.  

We rolled into town Friday afternoon to get the race packet and hit the expo.  The expo was a decent size with good vendors but certainly not what I’m used to as far as the big city race expos that Chitown offers.  Smile   We zipped thru pretty quickly, then walked around Louisville getting our bearings and finding our way to the race finish area.  I’d like to add that as we were walking toward the finish, a race official in a golf cart saw us and asked if we needed help.  He was kind enough to take a minute to not only tell us where to go but to also tell us which side of the street to walk on come race day.  Super nice!!  Great day and we turned in early to prep for the race! Just before we turned drifted off to sleep, we heard fireworks and looked out the window to see the display going off over the stadium.  Nice!

fireworks

The race started at 7:30 am eastern time and it was mid 50s at the start.  Perfect running weather with a promise of rising temps and lots of sunshine to come.  The start was on Main Street and it was flooded with runners and spectators alike making it hard to move very quickly and it “might” have been a bit of a cluster getting to bag check and funneling into the corrals.  The atmosphere was charged with nervous chatter and many around me were not necessarily excited but more so nervous about the impending start.   The majority of runners were planning to tackle the “mini” and it was apparent that many were also first time half marathoners.  The mini ended up with 11,599 finishers, while  2,030 people finished the full and an additional 68 teams completed the marathon relay.   Big race for Louisville, Kentucky!!

Once the gun went off, the corrals started moving slowly toward the start.  There didn’t appear to be any separation between corrals but rather a rolling start.  Once we started running it was definitely busy but not so busy that I felt confined, just enough that I had to pay attention.  Smile  The course started by passing all the  Main Street businesses, bars, restaurants, a large concert venue and several museums.  But I personally was just bidding my time, and chatting with Greg S who I had befriended in the start corral.  I was trying to be patient because that’s a necessity for me in the marathon.  I also reminded myself that this was my 3rd marathon in 14 days and I knew I would start feeling that sooner or later.  However, I was feeling good at the start and thankfully Greg was SUPER entertaining and kept me moving right along without time to think about the 26.2 miles in front of me.  I was grateful for his company.  And his stories.  He wasn’t concerned about pace so didn’t get upset or run off without me when I hit the brakes a couple times to slow our pace.  Then we were thru University of Louisville and on toward Churchill Downs.  The excitement grew as we reached the horse track and I was thrilled that we were able to run thru the tunnels to hit the infield.  We were even able to spot several horses running the track.  Yay!!  So exciting!!

churchill downs  churchill downs_inner track

Then we were soon out of Churchill Downs and ready for the half/full split, which I was not at all expecting.  I was still on the high from Churchill Downs and just followed the crowd {and my new buddy Greg}, the majority of which was running the half.  It took me a minute to process that  1)  I was on the wrong side of the split and 2)  My new buddy Greg was running the half.  BOOOO on both accounts!  I quickly corrected the situation and fortunately didn’t trip up too many people the race coordinators anticipated a “few” people messing up the split because they left open sections in the fence for those of us who ended up on the wrong side.  Thank you!!    Now onto the real challenge, Iroquois Park, which encompassed miles 11-15. 

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I’d been previously warned that it was going to be bad so I thought I was mentally prepared.  But it was tough.  Super Tough.  Yet super beautiful at the same time.   I walked/jogged thru the park and just tried to enjoy the day.  I didn’t want to push on the hills too much and then trash myself for the remainder of the race.  After I was out of the park, I still needed to cover an additional 11 miles so I took it easy.

Iriquois Park  Iriquois Park2

The majority of the runners turned off at the half and things were much more relaxed.   However, I was never alone.  Not even in the park where there were fewer spectators.   I was always surrounded by friendly runners who where happy to chat.  There were also aid stations & potties every 1.5-2 miles.  Medical stops every other aid station or so.  And there were spectators.  A lot of spectators who were cheering, playing music, clapping, holding signs, and handing out water or snacks from there own homes.  Great crowd support, Louisville!!  The course was also marked at each mile with a large mile marker sign and then again on the ground.  Couldn’t miss those mile markers!  Super cool!

mile markers 

I felt good thru the entire race and I was super thankful for all the work Dr. Alexis did last week to help speed my recovery and to help get rid of a few “niggles” that showed up at the Carmel Marathon the week previous.  I never hurt but my legs did start to get heavy around mile 18.  I didn’t do much walking, just kept moving forward slowily, inching my way to the finish.  About the time, that I really needed to be done, we hit 3rd street and all the beautiful dogwood trees started showering me with little pedals.  Very magical.  I absolutely loved it and was so thankful that I had picked the Derby Festival for #3 this month.  Great day.  Great race.  Great course that rained flowers when I needed a little extra energy!

flowering trees on 3rd St

And as always, the finish will eventually show up if we are persistent enough to keep moving forward.  It was a welcome site and it was also super cool that the kiddos were out to cheer me on at the end.  Special thanks to Miss Katie who was kind enough to hang out with the kiddos all day long and get them to the finish to see me.  Normally Katie would be running too but she is in taper mode to prepare for her 100 miler on April 26th!!  Go, Katie!!  You are an amazing friend and a strong runner.   Can’t wait to hear how you crush 100 miles next weekend!

Katie took  a few photos of me heading toward the finish  & then with the kiddos afterward.  Michael says it’s too sunny and he doesn’t like the sun in his eyes!  Temps were in the upper 70s by the time we finished running so it was warm and very sunny.  LOL!

me_running toward finish1  me_running toward finish  me & kids_finish

Swag:

swag  Medal

I really loved this race.  It had a lot of little ups and downs but was mostly flat except for Iroquois Park.   There was plenty to see to keep things interesting.  The race is well ran and well supported by both volunteers and locals.  I’d put this on my top 3 list for marathons.  As for the stats, this was marathon #13 for me and the 7th state in which I’ve ran a marathon.  Next up, the Illinois Marathon on Saturday (4/26/14).

** Keep Moving Toward the Finish, Regardless of Pace ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Carmel Marathon Recap …. My 2nd Marathon in 7 days

The Carmel Marathon weekend was a Team Tough Chik event and I was excited to go meet some of the ladies who I had previously only known “on line”.  We did dinner.  We talked.  And then we ran.  Perfect meet-up!!  Plus  I’m just loving the Team Tough Chik run singlet this year so it was the  perfect excuse to make it’s debut at the first warm race of the season!!

I also was able to hang with Katie, From Ice Cream To Marathon, once again and we always have fun!!   Plus my friend, Julie made the trip with me so that she could knock Indiana off her 50 States quest!  And of course we saw, Mike (Run Nerds Rock) since this is a hometown race for him.  Good times pre & post race!

Carmel Marathon_me&katieCarmel Marathon_julie & meCarmel Marathon_katie mike me

The Carmel Marathon was a new one for me.  I had heard good things about it from past participants and the early bird entry fee was low, like really low.  Maybe $30 for the half and $40 for the full?  So I signed up around Thanksgiving of last year when they were doing a registration blitz and I heard that several other Toughies were going.  It’s a small race with 833 finishers for the full marathon and 1431 finishers for the half.  

Parking was free and close to the start.  Since we were “newbies” to the race, we parked at the first parking spot we came across and this resulted in us having about a 15 minute walk to the start.  This also put us a bit behind schedule because the start area was jam packed with people, runners and family members alike.   We headed to bag check and found a very long, single file line, with probably 40 people in front of us.  Bags were just being accepted and tossed to the ground.  There was no attempt at any sort of initial organization.  That bit me in the butt when I realized that I left something very important in my check bag.  I tried to retrieve it, they just stared at me blankly and told me that they had no idea where my bag might have gone.  Boo for me!  Sad smile

Then we hit the potties.  Long lines there too and not nearly enough potties for the crowd.  We were, in fact, still in line to potty when the start gun went off.  Boo for me and hundreds of other people.  Sad smile

Then we finally got thru the potty line and headed to the start.  People were still streaming thru the start line so no worries on our part other than we had hoped to run with a pace group.  The course was flat with a few very small inclines.  Good terrain with all of the course being on paved forest preserve paths, thru neighborhoods or on busier streets where they reserved one lane for the runners.   Aid stations with water every 2 miles.  Gatorade at every other stop.  One food station which offered bananas.  No gels offered on course.  Very little crowd support despite a super sunny day and warm temps which inched up toward 70 degrees.  Friendly volunteers and police support but some seriously unhappy residents that we were blocking traffic. Sad smile

Overall, this is the race you want to run when you feel great, don’t need much help and are looking for a clear course to just bust a move.  If you are a person who needs a little love from the crowd to boost your mood or help propel you thru the end miles, then maybe find one a little bit larger or with a community that is fully invested in a marathon on their city  & neighborhood streets.  There were a lot of people really hurting toward the end of this race.  Not a lot of people were talking.  Nobody was singing.  Sad smile  This is one of the very few places I’ve been where almost everyone was walking at the end.  It was warm so I know that was an issue for many.  Then there just wasn’t much support out there for those of us at the back of the pack.  It was a good race, that was done well but it was a drag and those end miles REALLY drug out forever.  Cool swag though:

Carmel Marathon_swag

Lastly, this was my 2nd marathon in 7 days.  Last week’s ultra was only 3 seconds slower per mile than this marathon.  My legs are definitely tired.  In fact my quads feel like hamburger and my right hip is irritated.  I am facing down 2 more marathons this month to finish my 4 for 40 quest.  I knew this wasn’t going to be easy but a challenge is never easy or it wouldn’t be considered a challenge.  I’m hoping for a party awesome atmosphere this weekend at the Derby Marathon so that I can get a little help from the crowds to carry me thru to the end!  I know #3 will be the hardest so I’m crossing my fingers that Louisville will be out in force to help me get this done!

don't stop

Let me know if you are headed to Louisville for the Derby Marathon this weekend.  I would definitely love to know a few people out on course! 

** Questing for 4 Marathons in the 4th Month of 2014 for my 40th Birthday **            Amanda – TooTallFritz

4 For 40 …..

Well, I turned the big 4-0 last week.  No, it was not the end of the world but rather a celebration.  I’m super excited to be in a new age group decade.  I look forward to my 40s and plan to celebrate for the ENTIRE month of April.  I mean, really, everyone should celebrate the arrival of April and specifically SPRING.  So yes, it’s a bit of a rebirth for all of us but it’s pure celebration or maybe the “hour of power” for myself and my bitchy strong and determined Aries friends. 

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I’ve been thinking about the big 4-0 for the last year.  I wanted to do something “big” but nothing that would cause any “big” problems for the family.  I could have taken the day off work and ran 40 miles but I didn’t.  Too boring.  So I’ve been tossing around the idea of 4 marathons, in the 4th month of the year, to celebrate my 40th birthday.  I’m a big numbers person and this seems right.  Adventurous but doable.  I’ve certainly weighed the pros verses cons a billion times and I think I can do it.  No, I know I can do it.  Safely.  Without injury.  With a smile on my face.  So here is the line up for the magical month of April.  I’ve officially registered for all of these races {and also have childcare, plus travel arrangements, in place}:

  1. 4/5/14 – Lakefront 50K (31 miles) – 5:39 finish – 4th in my new age group (see, the universe is working with my “4” theme)
  2. 4/12/14 – Carmel Marathon, Carmel, IN
  3. 4/19/14 – Kentucky Derby Marathon, Louisville, KY
  4. 4/26/14 – Illinois Marathon, Champaign, IL

If all goes well,  I’ll have 4 marathons in 21 days and that will qualify me as a 4 star Marathon Maniac.  Yes,  more 4s.  Open-mouthed smile  If it doesn’t go well, then I’ll toss my bibs in the garbage, stand on the sidelines and cheer my friends to the finish and be no worse off than if I didn’t try at all.  However, I’m confident that it will work.  I’m confident that I can do it.  I’m confident that I can stay in control enough to finish the races without pushing my body too far.  I’m honestly looking at the 4 marathons as a “box set”.  In my head, it’s one race with separate “stages”.   It’s going to work.

Impossible til its Done

So don’t look for me on the trail this month.  I’ll either be marathoning or sitting in the rocker with me feet up.  There really won’t be much in between.  Sounds like the perfect Birthday Month to me!   WhooooHooooo!

Don't Worry About Getting Old

** 4 for 40, In the 4th Month, Running for 4 Star Marathon Maniac Status **                      Amanda – TooTallFritz